A new year and a time to revisit an old past time

A new year and a time to revisit an old past time

March last year the yacht Futura after 30 years ownership, past into anothers hands.

I thought my sailing days were over

But a chance to crew with friends means that the 2021 adventures start on the bright blue sea.

Sailing down the channels Port Phillip

Past ships waiting at anchor

Keeping a weather eye

Before entering into Queenscliff the beautiful small boat harbour near Port Phillip Heads.

After a beautiful seaside sunset it a day for some final checks then out into Bass Strait.

The Motorcycle as Art

The Motorcycle as Art

The motorcycle has been used as a symbol in many ways;

the rebel,

the outlaw

the philosopher

The revolutionary

the freedom seeeker

the speed freak racer

the dare devil

and many more archetypes

The book Sons of Thunder in its anthology of writing covers many of these

To a rider their bike is a work of art

But as a public artform curated in an Art Gallery

This was special

The beautiful old Moto Guzzis took my eye

as the the Norton Commando and Laverda Joto-bikes I once owned

There were bikes so stylish

And bikes record breakingly fast

There were the off road bikes

And the electric bikes of the future

And my favourite – amazing hand built Britten

Still amongst the most innovative and eye catching bikes ever built

So if you love the image of motorbikes, the art of motorbikes and you are in Australia, head to the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane

whoops I nearly forgot the helmets

and if you go don’t forget to buy a tshirt!

Into Queensland

Into Queensland

The Pacific Highway is the most direct route from Yamba up into Queensland.

But motorways are busy and with the weather predicted to hit 40c to hot and exposed on a motorbike

So I chose a route inland which took me through the cool of the mountains

Along some twisty byways

I started early to miss the heat

At Lawrence the ferry was waiting

In the morning light

to take me across the Clarence river.

Soon I was on the Summerland Way

Through Casino and Kyogle and on the Lions Road that leads into the Border Ranges

The Border Loop lookout providing the perfect stop for a coffee stop and a mid morning snack in the cool of a bit of altitude.

It was a hot ride onto my destination west of Brisbane so I hustled along into Queensland

Is Yamba the most iconic beachside town in Australia?

Is Yamba the most iconic beachside town in Australia?

Yamba sits where the Clarence River meets the Pacific Ocean

The rolling white surf of the ocean

Crashing into the salt water pool at high tide

These pools are such iconic scenes of beaches on the norther NSW coast

Where you can swim in the ocean water that in Spring is a warm 22c

Looking back to land from the waters edge

The white sand and the matching cream coloured Surf Lifesaving Pavilion lead your eyes to the Pacific hotel

The perfect place for a cold beer and a meal on a summers day.

The smooth water of the moorings in the Clarence River are such a contrast to the pounding white surf of the ocean just the other side of the headland

and looking west of the Clarence river

The sunset is breathtaking

On the way to Yamba from Coffs Harbour there is one of my favourite camping spots.

It’s in the Yuraygir National Park the Illaroo campground.

I had first visited this place with a dear friend.

There was a big thunder storm due

So I pitched my tent and shelter in behind the sand dune and its scrub

and walked down to the beach to await natures lightshow

I wish I had the skills crashes of thunder and the forks and sheets of lightning that filled the sky that night.

Hitting the road on the Mighty Breva as Australia is close to Covid 19 free

Hitting the road on the Mighty Breva as Australia is close to Covid 19 free

The internal borders on the eastern seaboard of Australia finally started to open as the community transmission of Covid 19 is eliminated.

It was time to load up the mighty Moto Guzzi Breva and hit the road.

Time to visit dear friends interstate that I hadn’t seen a long while

First stop was the lovely old town of Carcoar,and the lovely camping spot on the banks of the dam

From Lithgow through to Singleton the Bell Line of Road and the Putty Road is a spectacular ride across the top of the Blue Mountains.

The Blue Mountains were badly burnt in the terrible Australian bushfires last summer, but it was great to see some regeneration.

Off the Blue Mountains it was the backroads to the beautiful Pacific coastline north of Sydney.

Rattling over the old timber bridges that are distinctive part of the NSW backroads.

On the way from the mountains to the coast.

On the northern NSW coast mountains and the sea come together and on a hot summer day there is the ocean or a run up the Waterfall Way for a freshwater dip.

To Dangar falls in Dorrigo.

A route enjoyed by many beautiful bikes.

And at the bottom of the Waterfall Way is Urunga.

Where the Kalang River flows into the Pacific Ocean.

And the big old hotel offers a cold beer, a comfy room and a good meal.

Release from the Melbourne Covid-19 Lockdown and a loop around Victoria, Australia

Release from the Melbourne Covid-19 Lockdown and a loop around Victoria, Australia

After four long months and the defeat of the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Melbourne, restrictions were lifted and travel within rural parts of the state of Victoria is allowed.

Time to spread the wings

The route – an 1800km loop around the outskirts of Melbourne – A route I will dub the outer Melbourne Ring Road.

Victoria, is the smallest mainland state of Australia but with a diverse landscape some iconic riding roads, along the coast and over mountains.

This route took in aspects of them all

Starting with a trip in company past the Port Phillip Bay Heads (the Rip) an often treacherous piece of water but calm and benign this day.

Off the ferry it was a ride through the Mornington Peninsula to Cape Schank and its magnificent view over Bass Strait

There is a lovely ride from Cape Schank to the township of Flinders before heading up to the first set of mountain twisties around the base of Mount Baw Baw.

And through some magnificent old growth forest.

After a run on the back roads of Gippsland camp awaited at Bruthen and the start of the Great Alpine Road.

From Bruthen the Great Alpine Road runs up the Tambo River Valley

Up to the summit of Mount Hotham

The northern side of the mountain is the most steep and a bit of a testing ride at times and then just after it flattens out there is a turn off to Mount Beauty over the Towonga Gap Road; with its beautiful views over the Kiewa Valley and the Mount Beauty Township.

Storms were forecast and a caravan was found beside the Kiewa River

After the storm the next morning was cool and the clouds still hung in the Valley

The run was now west through the King Valley

One of Victoria’s famous food and wine regions

With beautiful country pubs

And views over the valley from the mountains that flank it

The final twist for the day was to head north over the Macedon Ranges to Mount Franklin

Where there is a camping area in the crater of this old volacano

And walks around the crater rim

Mount Franklin is near the historic gold mining town of Maldon. See previous post here

The route west was then onto Maryborough and its amazing Victorian Era Railway station built during the gold rush

Then Avoca in the central highlands and central to the Victorian Pyrenees wine region

To the Grampian Ranges and a ride through these amazing rocky outcrops.

By this time the weather had turned wet and cold and it was a dash south across the western district plains to a warm hotel in the green rolling hills of the Otway Ranges hinterland.

A gentle ride along the Great Ocean Road.

An old time favourite ride see previous posts here and here

The overall trip was just under 2000km

So different to being confined to a 5km radius

Yes it was time to spread the wings.

Next week the interstate borders open!!!!

Melbourne Lockdown Reflections 13 (the last)- New Delhi

Melbourne Lockdown Reflections 13 (the last)- New Delhi

Arriving in New Delhi on 1 December 2008 for a first visit to India was more chaotic that was to be expected.

It was only 5 days after the the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, which when added to the massive construction program, that was being undertaken for the 2010 Commonwealth Games there was a special craziness in the city and its people.

I wondered if seeing Shiva the Destroyer looming over the city was a strange omen.

There was a level of wariness as well

Evidenced in the usually bustling Koral Bagh area of the city where most of the shops were shuttered and only a few street vendors were plying their trade.

The heavy smog and often frantic foot, car and tuk tuk trafic made photography a real challenge.

As did the heavy military presence at this time.

Like many capital cities New Dehli in its architecture give hints of the history of the country.

From the Minaret at the old fort from the time of the Mughal Empire from the long period of the Mughal domination.

The British Colonial, Presidents Palace and Arch of Triumph, from the high period of British colonialism

But most impresive

Was the understated Mahatma Gandhi memorial or Raj Ghat

A quiet and peaceful place is a busy noisy city.

A place emblematic of India as an independent nation.

Today is the last day of the Melbourne lockdown.

Over 4 months of restricted movement, stay of home orders and not seeing friends and family.

With now 9 days straight of zero infections and zero deaths from Covid 19 the restrictions are eased and the lockdown of the City of Melbourne finished

So the Mighty Breva has been serviced and loaded and ready for a weeks adventure in country Victoria

Along the coast, over the mountains and along the by ways.

Stay tuned!!!!

Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

Agra is the home of marvels none greater than the Taj Mahal

In some ways it overwhelms the other significant sites of Agra

So lets save it for last and start with the Tomb of Akbar

Akbar the Great led a huge expansion of the Mughal Empire and built both its military and economic strength.

Akbar arguably took the Mughal Dynnasty from Warlords to Emperors ruling over lands from Uzbekistan in north and well into southern India in the south and to Bangladesh in the east.

Coming by road from New Delhi to Agra the Tomb of Akbar is the significant monument you will come to first as you enter Agra

The Red Fort or Agra fort was the residence of the Mughal Dynasty

The Fort is better described as a walled city given its huge size

But the huge fortifications are definitely fort like

Inside the fortifications the remains of the sumptuous apartments give an indication of the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Emporors who resided here

The Fort became a prison for one emporor Shah Jahan, who had commissioned the Taj Mahal, the tribute to his wife who had died.

While the Emperor was ill his youngest son seized power, imprisoning Shah Jahan, in a wing of the fort

From where he could peer out at the tribute to the love of his life and mother of his captor

The Taj Mahal – the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan.

As you walk through the entrance gates you can not be taken by the beauty of the Taj Mahal

I’m sure Ive read it is the most beautiful building in the world and from my first sight I can not fault that claim

From afar

From every angle it is truly an awe inspiring building

Up close the detail of the carving in the marble and the inlay work is breath taking

The view from the main deck of the Taj Mahal back to the main gate one surveys the opulence of the grounds.

And of course I could not help but admire the beautiful colours that are India

Lockdown Reflections 11 – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Lockdown Reflections 11 – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

The Water Palace, Jaipur

I have seen so little of the wonderful country that is India

A country so diverse, and full of contradiction and colur

I think the its the colours in India that stay with me as the most remarkable memories.

Join me as I reflect on the my small taste of India during the next few posts

Starting with Jaipur, the pink city, the capital Rajasthan

The colourful chalk drawings on the elephants in the streets

The ocre and pink tinged buildings that lend the city its name

And the amazing palaces, the Water Palace (top of page)

The amazing Wind Palace

The Maharaja (or City) Palace where the Maharaja still resides

I was most impressed though by the Yellow Fort.

Especially is you take the elephant ride to the main entry to the palace.

Then while winding through the rooms and alleyways of the Palace

There are special treats awaiting

Like snake charmers

With such a burst of colour

Of course a trip to Jaipur would not be complete without a Rajisthani feast – Vegetarian of course

A meal fit for the Maharaj!

Lockdown reflections 10 – The big cats of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Lockdown reflections 10 – The big cats of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Of the big cats of the Masai mara the Cheetah is the at the smaller end and hard to find

And we were lucky to find this one resting under a tree.

In contrast the lions, the Kings of the Jungle were out in the open and unafraid

Such photogenic beasts and totally unafraid in their domain

Even when courting

And mating

The Leopard is more illusive and its young are vulnerable

So the they are kept safely up a tree

But like all young, juvenile leopards don’t always stay put when told to

and decided to climb down our of the tree and take a walk

All of a sudden out of the bushes dashed the mother too fast for me and my camera.

She grabbed up the escaping cub and was gone back into the scrub

But all the action revealed

A second cub hiding in the tree.

On leaving the area we came upon a hyena clan out hunting

Hyena are major predators for leopard cubs and will camp out under a tree waiting for an opportunity to get a cub if the find a tree.

These hyena have tracing collars attached as part of a research project that is being undertaken into the social structures of these amazing animals.

In Ethiopia, in the city of Harrar, I learnt a new respect for the hyena.

This city has a special relationship with hyena that goes back centuries.

Which in more recent times has led to the hand feeding of the hyena and many many mill around

And if you are game

You may feed them yourself

I guess you are wondering if the hyena found the leopard cubs?

When we went back the next day – Both cubs were in the tree!

This brings to an end my reflections on journeys to Ethiopia and Kenya.

I has planned to travel to Morocco this year but Covid 19 put an end to that, but I look forward to visiting some more the diverse countries of the amazing African continent.